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CUOMO PRIME TIME

The Countdown Clock Set for Friday Morning by the Senate Judiciary Committee for Dr. Ford; President Trump Gives Himself a Big Pat on the Back Regarding Kim Jong-un's Promise to Get Rid of Nuclear Complex and Close Missile Site. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired September 19, 2018 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Her lawyer thinks more witnesses need to be added to the list, even as Ford makes the decision of her life. We will take it up in "Cuomo's Court."

Now, does the whole Kavanaugh mess give Democrats a better shot in the midterms? There are specific races where Democrats have the best shot to turn red seats blue. How does this impact that?

And if you thought all this might distract the president from his feud with his own attorney general, nope. I'll ask Jim Clapper why the president now says he doesn't have an A.G. Another hour. Let's get after it.

We may not be in uncharted territory, but tonight we're all in a strange place with the countdown clock set by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and it is set for Friday morning. That's when Brett Kavanaugh's accuser, Dr. Christine Ford, has to decide if she's willing to abandon her request for an FBI investigation and testify about the moment she says she feared for her life as a teen.

Now, her lawyers say she's again fearing for her life from death threats that forced her from her California home. And waiting to defend his name is Judge Kavanaugh. He's had dozens of women come to his side. He says this is categorically false and he wants an opportunity to testify and prove that it's false.

So let's start with "Cuomo's Court" now in session, Asha Rangappa and Ross Gerber.

Asha, your take on the Friday deadline?

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: My take on the Friday deadline is that this is an incredibly difficult position for Dr. Ford, and I don't think it's particularly fair and it's not going to actually get at anything that's going to be helpful for illuminating the veracity of her allegation.

And I think that her lawyer has made the right call that this should be looked into further by professional investigators. The FBI would be the obvious choice here. But in this particular case, the FBI is really waiting for a request from the consumer of the background check, which they have provided, which is the White House. And this would be the president's call.

CUOMO: Right. Now, Ross, the president says FBI doesn't want to do it, this isn't what they do. I don't see where he's getting any of that.

ROSS GERBER, CEO, GERBER KAWASAKI WEALTH AND INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT: Well, the reality is, it's just not going to happen unless the president wants it to happen. And it looks like the president doesn't want it to happen, so it -- look, it's just not going to happen. The FBI is not going to get involved in this without the president wanting the FBI to get involved in it.

And Asha's right. You know, in some ways, they are a logical, you know, force to come in. They do investigations all the time. It would make sense to have them do it. On the other hand, this really is an issue for the U.S. Senate, and the Senate also does investigations all the time and does inquiries, and they're positioned to do it, as well.

CUOMO: But they can't be trusted. Let's be honest. You know, people dance so much about this. Look, I respect public service. I respect the Senate. I respect Congress. But, Asha, let's just call it what it is. I mean, this is completely politicized. There is absolutely no unbiased look for the truth here on either side.

RANGAPPA: That's right, Chris. I've watched several hearings just in the past few months, and they -- the questions that are asked by these committees, whether they're Democrats or Republicans, are not the same as the kind of questions that an FBI agent would ask.

An FBI agent would ask open-ended questions. They would be just the facts. They would be taking down whatever the person said. They are not trying to obtain a particular outcome. They are simply trying to elicit as much information as they can, get it down on record, use that to create new leads and find other people to talk to, and then submit that information to the fact-finder.

That's not what the goal is here in the Senate Judiciary. Each side has a particular outcome that they want to see. And whether -- as much as they try, even if they tried their best, they would still be steering their questions in those directions.

GERBER: Right. Well, but the difficulty is, as Asha knows, the FBI, even if they came in and did an investigation, they wouldn't be making credibility determinations.

CUOMO: Right.

GERBER: And at the end of the day, that is what this is going to be about.

CUOMO: But at least you show best efforts, Ross, and you'd have a clear record. And this is what they did with Anita Hill.

GERBER: Yeah, fair enough. Look, there are lots of reasons why that would be the ideal scenario. It's just not going to happen. And so now the question...

CUOMO: So who pays the price for that? Who pays the price if it doesn't happen?

GERBER: Well, it depends. It depends on what the ultimate result is.

CUOMO: It's not good for Kavanaugh. He's going to have this hanging over his head now?

GERBER: Maybe. So -- if that doesn't happen, what's going to wind up happening, I think, is there is going to be a hearing, open or closed. Judge Kavanaugh is going to testify. Dr. Ford is going to testify. And people are going to make -- the senators are going to make a credibility determination.

CUOMO: Asha, do you think that she testifies -- Dr. Ford -- even if the FBI thing doesn't happen? And if so, should it be open or closed?

RANGAPPA: I don't know, Chris. I mean, that's really going to be up to her...

CUOMO: Sure.

RANGAPPA: ... and whether she wants to do it. I think that it will be -- that's an incredibly personal decision. I think that there are a lot of ramifications to that. We've seen that from Anita Hill.

On the other hand, if she doesn't, I think that that will be something that's seized upon to move forward and to potentially discredit her account.

I just want to add, you know, to what Ross said. I'll push back a little bit and say what the FBI does add is potentially corroborating information that can actually tilt the scales perhaps in one direction or another. And that's because they can actually talk to other people, whether it's eyewitnesses who were there, people who are ostensibly present at this party, the therapist, the husband, that fleshes out the account and potentially provide additional details that might, you know, actually go to the veracity of one side or the other, whereas just getting these two people in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I think we'll end up in an Anita Hill situation again.

CUOMO: Right. And, look, here's the problem. The stakes are the problem. Not only do they compromise any sense of objectivity, but it would be different if this were an allegation that came up as a determination of whether or not Judge Kavanaugh should stay in his position as a circuit court judge. That would be one situation, all right? And it would have to be one where, well, is it enough, or is it not enough, is there legal sufficiency? Would there be a trial or is there, you know, some type of statute of limitations?

But here the situation politically is much more daunting. It's that if they don't give respect to the accusation, they will then, in turn, elevate Judge Kavanaugh with this hanging over his head. Ross, that covers a lot of political ground, does it not?

GERBER: Yeah, it certainly does. And, look, we've all been around the block. I'm not ready to write off this process. I think Dr. Ford was incredibly brave to come forward...

CUOMO: A hundred percent.

GERBER: ... and to, you know, make these allegations. I think she's now facing a maelstrom that just no one should ever have to go through. But I do think, at the end of the day, there is a chance that once people hear from Dr. Ford and once people hear from Judge Kavanaugh, look, we make credibility determinations in our everyday life. We decide. We listen to people. We have opinions on whether people are telling the truth or not. I think that is what's going to wind up happening here and that may be the process.

CUOMO: Well, it's the only thing that can happen. But, Asha, as you said, look, it's up to her whether or not she does it. And I would never presume -- it's obviously been difficult already. It's difficult for everybody who's in that kind of situation to come forward, let alone with this kind of klieg light set that's going to be on her.

But if she doesn't come forward, what is the chance that Kavanaugh doesn't just pass right through? What would be the basis to vote against him if you never even got a chance to hear her testify?

RANGAPPA: Well, I think that it could, as I mentioned before, give kind of additional momentum to push it through. And I think what's important to remember here is that this is also -- it's not just Judge Kavanaugh's integrity. This is also the integrity of the court.

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: I mean, this is one of our most revered institutions in this country. This is the institution that says what the law is. And as much as all of us disagree with the court's pronouncements, at one point or another, we all respect it because we believe that the people there, you know, even if we disagree with them philosophically, you know, are there to do that job. And I think at a time when our institutions are being challenged, this really would be a huge blow to have this potentially tainted nomination.

CUOMO: And to those Republicans who believe that less is more, look at Anita Hill. You know, when they did the FBI investigation and then got leaked and became public, and then they had the hearings, and you know what? For all that came out, in that testimony and all that back-and-forth, Clarence Thomas was higher in polls afterwards than he was before.

Asha, Ross, appreciate you doing this. We'll be talking about this again. Thank you.

GERBER: Good to be here.

CUOMO: Let's turn now to North Korea. President Trump is giving himself a big pat on the back today, saying that Kim Jong-un has returned to his promise to get rid of the nuclear complex there and close a missile site. But that promise comes with conditions. Don't they always?

I'm going to ask Jim Clapper if this is really a breakthrough. He just happens to be in Seoul, South Korea. Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: The era of no war has started. That's what the leader of South Korea said at a summit with Kim Jong-un, where North Korea agreed to dismantle a missile testing site, as well as a nuclear facility, provided the U.S. makes concessions in return. Is this a step forward? Is this another empty promise?

Regardless, the president thinks it has to do in part with his own relationship with Kim. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Remember this. Prior to my coming into office, a lot of people thought we were going -- it was inevitable we were going to war in North Korea. And now we're -- the relationships, I have to tell you, at least on a personal basis, they're very good. It's very much calmed down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: To be fair, the only time it seemed that we may be looking at actually military action with North Korea was when this president started the saber rattling and making those kinds of threats. Be clear about that.

Let's bring in Jim Clapper, former director of national intelligence. He happens to be in Seoul, South Korea, tonight. Good to have you, sir. I don't even need an expert like you to make such an obvious point about what the president just said. But his sanguine take on where things stand, do you share it?

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, I think there's certainly room for some optimism here. And a couple comments I'd make, first, having been here in Seoul the last couple days and watched the wall-to-wall coverage of the summit, I have to salute President Moon, who may be the most astute president in the history of the republic.

And I think he's handled his two portfolios, the one in Pyongyang as we've witnessed, and the one in Washington pretty well. And he and his Foreign Minister Kang I think are maybe the best tandem that the republic has ever been blessed with.

I have a little contrarian view, Chris, on what has led to this, you know, relatively speaking benign behavior on the part of the North Koreans. I think it had much more to do with the North Koreans achieving whatever it is they think they needed for nuclear deterrence. And so for the first time, they could approach the United States not as a supplicant, which has always been the major characteristic of our nuclear dialogue in the past.

And so from the North Korean perspective, they've made a lot of concessions. They've stopped the nuclear tests. They've stopped the missile tests. They returned the remains from the Korean War. They released hostages. And they've cut out, for now, their bellicose, provocative rhetoric.

So they're kind of looking, I think, to the United States to reciprocate. What are the concessions we're going to make? And simply saying to the North Koreans, OK, obey us and we'll be less coercive, I don't think is going to cut it with the North Koreans.

CUOMO: What do they want?

CLAPPER: So the issue that really bugged me about -- well, that's a good question. And I think the president kind of lost a great opportunity he had in Singapore in June to ask Kim Jong-un directly and get it straight from the horse's mouth, what is it, it would take to make you feel sufficiently secure that you don't need to rely on nuclear weapons? And I think it's very important that we determine the answer to that question.

CUOMO: Now, and in terms of assessing this, you know, the president, when he was tweeting about it today, was referring to Fox. Can you give us some assurance from your contacts and your expertise that the president is hearing firsthand from his team what's going on over there? He's not learning about it by watching his friends at Fox, is he?

CLAPPER: Well, I hope not. I think certainly -- I will say, going back to the campaign, when we first started briefing President -- then the nominee Trump, when he became the Republican nominee, that he did evince a lot of interest in North Korea. So I assume that he is taking what's teed up about intelligence on North Korea, unlike, apparently, you know, he's kind of selective about intelligence on Russia.

CUOMO: It boggles my mind. You know, it's one of the beautiful parts of the power of the president. He is literally a phone call away from facts. You know, he can call the people in the intelligence community who are actually, you know, the holders of information.

Look at the FISA situation. Again, he's quoting, you know, Fox folk about why he's concerned about what's in the Carter Page FISA applications. He could just pick up the phone and in short order get a briefing on what was in there and what isn't in there and why. Why doesn't he rely on what he can resource?

CLAPPER: Yeah, that's a great question, Chris. And I don't know, because -- and some of the commentary he's made about the whole process makes me wonder whether he understands the FISA process and the inviolate nature of FISA court proceedings. And, of course, this -- his ordering that there be further declassification of the FISA requests for authorization, I think, is a very, very dangerous precedent. But as we've seen, he's not much of one to worry about precedent.

CUOMO: Well, look, obviously, he could have taken the time and figured out what's in there, right, and then made an assessment. He didn't, and it seems to be a political play that whatever comes out will be good for him.

Do you think that there will be satisfaction, that when these documents are made clear, that the American people will see that the FISA applications for Carter Page were really just about the dossier, and that there was really nothing there, and this was just ugly politics at play at the highest level?

CLAPPER: Well, I also don't think that that's what will be demonstrated. In fact, even the earlier version of the redacted FISA authorization to me had enough information in it to indicate that the dossier was certainly not used as the primary source.

Remember, this was the fourth -- this was the fourth request on Carter Page going back some years. So the dossier was perhaps an input, but certainly not the exclusive one. And as far as the provenance of the dossier and whether or not it was paid for, well, that was indicated what it -- you know, how it was originally funded. And that was indicated in the originally heavily redacted version of the dossier.

So I think even if -- and I hope they're not -- I hope the Department of Justice and the DNI will be very careful about any further redactions, because, again, this has bad implications for the future.

I don't think it's going to cast much light from an objective factual standpoint. But of course, the president's doing this for political reasons, and he's weaponizing another tool available to him that he has authority over, much like, you know, taking away clearances from people that disagree with him.

CUOMO: Jim Clapper, thank you for taking time all the way over there in South Korea to give us some insight on what's happening back here and there. Be well, sir.

CLAPPER: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right.

Let's get back to the main story, Kavanaugh. We know what happens if Christine Ford doesn't testify, right? I mean, how can they hold it up any more? What if she does? Will she change minds in the Senate? Remember the context for this. Could she cause the White House to think twice? We have some special guests here to look at the Senate's big test, next. Ho-ho, that's a panel.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Christine Ford's legal team is fighting back against Senate Judiciary Republicans. They say, quote, "The rush to a hearing is unnecessary and contrary to the committee discovering the truth."

But the committee chairman, Chuck Grassley, says he's had enough, and he has set a deadline, 10:00 a.m. Eastern Friday morning, he says, Ford must tell him whether she wants to testify or be ignored. Will Ford be the X factor that changes Kavanaugh's fate among politicians eyeing November?

David Gergen, Nan Hayworth, Charles Blow. Great panel. Thanks to all and each of you for being here.

David Gergen, deadline. Fair, unfair?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's fair to have it. I think they need to prepare if they're going to have a hearing. I think it's fair to ask her by then. I think the hard question is whether she should do it. But I think the even bigger issue tonight is whether it's fair to proceed without an FBI investigation.

You know, they keep arguing, the Republican side -- the White House keeps arguing, well, the FBI doesn't want to do it, therefore, we shouldn't, and that's going to go a lot of time. And the precedent, as you know -- you pointed out one of the things that was important, that in 1991, when Anita Hill brought up her charges, the George H.W. Bush White House, a Republican president, directed the FBI immediately to conduct a background investigation, because they thought you could find out things that were relevant.

But equally important to the arguments the Republicans are making now, the background investigation only took three days. Three days.

CUOMO: Right.

GERGEN: If President Trump had moved on this when it originally arrived at the White House, the background investigation might be done by now.

CUOMO: Hmm. So, fair point. So what are the points of push-back? Nan, the first one is, this ain't Anita Hill. That was contemporaneous. There were people we could talk to. It came to us in private, so we investigated it then at the direction of the president.

NAN HAYWORTH (R-NY), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: And jurisdictionally it was at a federal agency.

CUOMO: That's right.

HAYWORTH: Which is the FBI...

CUOMO: And this is none of those things. So, therefore, you don't need the FBI. Salient?

HAYWORTH: Well, I look at it this way. And you've had superb discussion. You've led superb discussion throughout the past hour. The Senate Judiciary Committee -- and I know this was also discussed. But the Senate Judiciary Committee was given -- in fact, was given a letter by the FBI with the names redacted -- Democratic and Republican staffers -- and they are given extra resources so that they can conduct whatever investigations they choose to do. The crucial question -- and it's been a disservice to Dr. Blasey, as

well as to Judge Kavanaugh, and, frankly, to the American people -- is how the Democrats on the committee let that information leak out, if Dr. Blasey had no intention of letting it leak out, and why the timing was as it was, so that everything has now become a matter of very short timelines. You know, that's really not fair.

CUOMO: Well, it's only short timeline if you want it to be. So let's take both parts of that. The Republicans can do whatever they want in terms of timing. This is their show. However, the criticism that the Democrats sprung this in an advantageous way, do you buy that?

CHARLES BLOW, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Listen, I don't know how it got leaked which forced her to move forward on that.

CUOMO: Safe to assume the Republicans didn't leak it.

BLOW: Well, I don't know -- I don't know how the memo moved around, right? I just can't speak on that.

I do believe, however, that we have to all take a step back and be respectful of Professor Ford. This is not only -- if it is true -- a sexual assault, it is a childhood sexual assault. And if you have never been the victim of a childhood sexual assault, everybody needs to calm down and take a step back. Stop asking why she didn't say anything.

I was a victim of a childhood sexual assault. Right? Not news. I wrote it in my book four years ago. The first time I told somebody was 17 years later. A stranger. Next time I told somebody was two years after that. Next time I told somebody was eight years after that. It was 37 years before I told everybody in the world in a book.

You can't -- I understand how if this happened to her, she could remember everything in that room and not the day. I don't remember the day. I know it was in my home. So that's the only way I know where it is. I don't remember the day. I don't remember who else -- my family must have been there, because this was our home.

But when we start asking these ridiculous questions about why didn't she say something -- she became a professional adult -- I was a columnist at the New York Times and nobody knew a thing, didn't say a word.

For us, it is a living thing that lives in our bodies, right, that you -- you wrestle with it all the time. I can't say that I thought about it every day, but I thought about it all the time. It was a living memory. It didn't move in my brain like other memories do to the back where it starts to fade. You're talking -- you're thinking about it all the time. So all of that minutia, he stood there, they turned the music -- all of that is alive in you.

CUOMO: So let me ask you something...

BLOW: Right? So when people start saying, we gave her a week, that's -- that's a crazy thing to say to someone who has just now, at her age, decided that she is compelled to say this out loud, to say, oh, I gave you a week, and if you don't come forward in a week, then you have nothing to say and you are invalid. It is an incredible...

CUOMO: Well, also -- she also did it with a little bit of a prophylactic on it, right? She came out anonymously, initially, so it wasn't like she was looking to go long and strong right out of the box about this.

But let me ask you something, and tell me if it's too sensitive. If you were asked to prove that it happened -- because that's what's going to happen.

BLOW: There's no way I could. There's no way I could. There is no way I could. There was nobody else in the room. At least in her case, there was somebody else in the room, so she says. There's nobody in the room.

HAYWORTH: Somebody else who says this never happened.

BLOW: That's beside the point. I'm just telling you what she's saying. But I can't give you a witness. I can't give you any evidence. I can't say that I, as I child, went to an adult or to authorities and said something. I didn't.

It is traumatic. It is -- you're constantly trying to figure out, as you said in the break, did I do something wrong? Is somehow this my fault? Why was I there? Could I have done something in the middle of it to make it stop? You know, how is it that this person is living their life, has never apologized to me?

What would I say to that person if I saw them in person again? I haven't seen this person in 30-something years. Is she -- is this her first time ever going to be in the room with this man, if, in fact, he did what he said he did?

I just find it -- all of our discussions around this are all about politics and all about, you know, whether or not, you know, people are making the right moves. And none of it is about whether or not, in fact, this was a childhood sexual abuse and this woman -- it's her first time talking about this. And are we being reasonable to a person who is talking about that for the first time?

CUOMO: So what do you do?

GERGEN: So what does fairness require? That was a compelling statement, an eloquent statement, and coming from you, African- American male making that statement, I think is really important.

But how do we determine the fairness of it? I believe she should testify. I think she should testify under protest. I think she should point out all the different reasons why this is an unfair process and basically tell her story. But I'm not sure how we reach fairness after she speaks and he speaks.

BLOW: I do -- I believe a couple of things have to happen. First of all, if -- I find a tremendous amount of kinship with her because -- as a survivor of that. And so the idea that she invites the FBI into her life to investigate is a huge thing. I mean, I'm not sure that I would have the courage to do that.

So I think that we should oblige that, and they can do things that the Senate cannot. The Senate can demand that people come testify, but the FBI has field agents. They can go and see, does the house exist? Right? Who does it belong to now? Who did it belong to then?

HAYWORTH: She doesn't remember...

(CROSSTALK)

BLOW: Well, let me just finish. Let me just finish. Who else does she say was there? Can we find those people? Just get them on the record, talk to the FBI agents, because at least -- at that point, if you tell me a lie, it's a crime, right? So at least you can do some just kind of fundamental stuff.

CUOMO: Right.

BLOW: And also, I think it's important to have experts in the room in addition to just her and him who can talk about how survivors of childhood sexual abuse process it, because in the absence of that, you're going to get a political theater in which people are going to say, why didn't you? How is it possible? You're a professor. You study things like this. How could you not? Why did you never? Because none of them could ever be in her shoes.

CUOMO: There's political risk here, also, in what Charles is detailing, and here's how I see it, which I think is also being ignored, although it doesn't matter as much as what Charles is talking about, which is being ignored.

You think you're doing Kavanaugh a favor by tearing her down and by questioning her story, and the time, and the ability to put it together, and the fact that Judge says it didn't happen. But remember what that does to Kavanaugh. One, he says this didn't happen. But you are attacking the accuser. Not you, I'm saying that effort.

HAYWORTH: I was going to say...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: And if you don't use the FBI and if this doesn't happen, he lives with it. And, remember, this isn't about whether or not he gets to remain on the bench as a circuit court judge, where you would have a different expectation of process. You are rewarding him after this has come out.

So it occurred to me that if I were a Kavanaugh partisan, I would say, stop making it hard for her to come forward. We need her to come and testify, because he'll never be clear of this otherwise.

GERGEN: She -- Kavanaugh would do the country a world of good and himself a world of good if he calls for an FBI investigation...

CUOMO: Right.

GERGEN: ... in advance of any hearing.

CUOMO: Right, now, of course, it is not his call. It's not her call. It's not Grassley's call. It's only the president's.

GERGEN: But in this environment, in this environment, if Kavanaugh says do it -- I know he won't here...

BLOW: But he doesn't have that courage, because he could have also, in the very beginning, called for the release of the rest of his documents...

GERGEN: I agree.

BLOW: ... which he didn't do, which would have served him well. If there was nothing there, he had -- and even if they didn't do it, it would have looked better on him. It is -- there's a reason that his approval rating to be confirmed is the lowest since Bork, who didn't get confirmed, because it does look shady, it does look shady to hide a bunch of documents. It does look shady to dump at the last minute. It does look shady to have someone come forward and the president be able to initiate an FBI investigation and not do it. It does look shady.

CUOMO: But isn't it different that he is concerned because he knows what's in the documents, whereas in this case, he says he has nothing to hide?

BLOW: Well, I mean, I don't know what he's concerned about and why he doesn't want the American people to know about those things.

HAYWORTH: Charles, he offered to speak immediately about -- even absent Dr. Blasey's testimony either in private, in closed session, without him present, I think the Senate Judiciary Committee even offered to go to California to talk with Dr. Blasey. So I don't think -- there's no sense that Judge Kavanaugh is endeavoring to hide anything from his aspect of the story. And he -- contextually, he's been accused.

BLOW: I'm not saying that. But I was agreeing -- I was just agreeing with David, which is that it would do him a world of good to say, I know that other people have other concerns. But I would like for you to investigate it because I believe that I am innocent and I did not do this.

CUOMO: David, give us a button and we'll take a break.

GERGEN: I'll -- a quick question, point, and that is what I really worry about for the country is when Roe v. Wade comes back for review and before those justices are going to be two people in the majority who have been accused of sexual misconduct, and the clouds could still be over their heads. It's really in the nation's interest for Kavanaugh to get this cloud off him, and he needs to do that very, very persuasively Monday. HAYWORTH: And especially in the context -- I mean, just the context

to make sure that everybody understands that. The context surrounding Judge Kavanaugh is that he has had, by all accounts, a spotless life. I mean, this is what we do know about him, as is amply -- I'm not -- I'm no seeking to denigrate Dr. Blasey.

(CROSSTALK)

BLOW: ... we just cannot have a Supreme Court where a third of all the men on that court have been accused of sexual misconduct, and we have not done a thorough investigation...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: And, of course, the accusation is only as good as its sufficiency, and that's why we have to vet it. Let's take a break. This is a good discussion. We'll keep the panel. When we come back, the president completely is playing this in a way that needs analysis, all right? He is publicly belittling and demeaning everything that's going on in this situation.

So when we come back, we're going to finish up about what should happen with this panel. We'll also talk about news of the day regarding the attorney general. It's a provocative question there. If you don't like somebody, why don't you fire them? We'll take that on, but there's more on this first.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: All right. Great panel. Big and important points being made. David Gergen, Nan Hayworth, Charles Blow.

So where we had gotten to was, one, first things first, a woman coming forward like this, anybody coming forward with this, you've got to give them sensitivity. This is much harder than it is of any garden variety political situation that we deal with. Fair point.

She came forward qualified. She wasn't looking to write a book. It was anonymous. She gave it to them. She didn't think, naive or otherwise, that it would go anywhere significant for her. Now here she is, and she is literally on the precipice of discussion. Everybody has said it would be better if she testifies.

What happens if she does not testify? Personally, how can you blame her, right, with all the pressure? But what happens if she does not testify, if she says, "I don't like it, I don't like what you're doing, it's too much for me, I have no protection, my family can't suffer it, forget it"? What happens?

GERGEN: Well, first of all, I think we should forgive her. There are going to be an awful lot of people who will be severely disappointed if she walks away, including a lot of women. And there are going to be a lot of people saying for whatever reason she's somehow responsible for Kavanaugh going on the court. And I think we ought to respect her and her individuality and what the hell she must be going through and why that would persuade her not to come forward. Beyond that, I think it's pretty clear, Chris, Kavanaugh gets confirmed. All the Republicans so far have buckled and said if she doesn't come forward, Flake has said, you know, and Collins has said, we haven't heard from Murkowski yet.

CUOMO: Can I -- and here's a bad question, OK? This sounds nasty. But we just lived through an election where a number of credible women made allegations that were dismissed by Republican leadership, Republican lawmakers that supported the president, and the people who voted for him. So why would I be surprised if Republicans are willing to look past maybe credible allegations from one woman when they were willing to overlook many women?

HAYWORTH: I don't have the sense at all that Republicans disrespect women nor fail to value the fact that -- look...

CUOMO: It doesn't have to be general.

HAYWORTH: Chris, no...

CUOMO: I'm talking specific.

HAYWORTH: OK, but...

CUOMO: The allegations against Trump were much worse in terms of number. And one of them has a civil suit right now against him that is proceeding.

HAYWORTH: Yes, and, you know...

CUOMO: And it was ignored...

HAYWORTH: You know, due -- the answer that many people, including me came up with, was -- or offered -- was due process. You know, there has to be an examination of the facts to the extent that we can. And in the case before us, offering Dr. Blasey, whose story, as we -- and, Charles, which is -- I'm taking into account what you have said, which is profound.

But her story has been widely publicized at this point. It would be -- it's reasonable -- in other words, don't impute any nefarious intentions to the Senate Judiciary Committee for saying, Dr. Blasey, please come and talk with us. They're not trying to be insensitive. They've offered her a number of opportunities and venues and modalities to use.

CUOMO: I'm saying, why should we think that anybody would change their vote, Charles, on the basis of whatever she says, when we know that the stakes here, a generation of jurisprudence -- that's what Kavanaugh means to them. If he gets on that court, a generation of jurisprudence could go their way, versus this woman, where in the election, there were a lot of women that if you wanted to look at them and say, "No, I can't be with this guy, we're supposed to be cultural conservatives. You know, we're supposed to value these things." But the value of the presidency made that a little easier to call due process and not dig into as deeply. How do you think this goes, if she doesn't testify?

BLOW: Right, so I think your answer is in your question. It should hold a little bit more weight because it is a lifetime appointment.

One thing that we know, one of these two people is lying. If the professor is lying, shame on her, should not do it, but she's a private citizen. I will suffer no consequence because she lied and we found out that she lied.

However, if Judge Kavanaugh is lying, it is a profound thing, and he cannot be confirmed to the Supreme Court. It is a disqualifying thing. And what we have -- we owe it to ourselves as a country to move as close as we can to knowing as much as we can about what the professor has alleged. You may not ever get to the point where you can say, "I can prove one case or the other," but we can at least move in the direction of more evidence, more testimony.

And I would submit that Republicans are being incredibly insensitive to her, because six days is nothing. And if during those six days, not only are you getting requests from senators in Washington which you don't have any relationship to, you don't -- that's not your stage. You're a professor at a school.

But in addition to that, you're being inundated by harassment and threats, including to your life, to the degree that you have to move out of your home, and your kids are now displaced from their home and possibly from their school. Let me tell you something. If that is happening to me, and you're also telling me that I'm supposed to prepare to be interviewed by a Senate full of hostile men who are already saying that I am confused or whatever the -- however they're dismissing her, and I'm supposed to do that in front of 100 million people.

Somehow you're going to look at me -- like David said, you have to forgive her if she does not meet this stupid deadline, because it is a dumb deadline, because what the Senate should be doing is saying, we're going to have conversations with you as you are available to have them over the next month or so. We're going to set up an apparatus, which we should have set up after Anita Hill, set up an apparatus to look into this, and maybe that is part us subpoenaing people and maybe that is part the FBI going out and doing some research for us. Maybe that is us having additional witnesses, including some professionals about how people process this sort of thing.

This is not Anita Hill in the sense that -- that was just workplace harassment. That is a qualitatively different thing that somebody on top of you, holding you down, and when you try to scream, they muffle your voice with their hand, and they're ripping at your clothes. That is a different level of accusation.

HAYWORTH: But Judge Kavanaugh says definitively and repeatedly, Charles...

(CROSSTALK)

HAYWORTH: ... that he was not the man.

BLOW: I need a hearing. I need a hearing. I don't -- yeah, he -- listen, what do they have to get out of this? Kavanaugh has to get what every law school student dreams of, an appointment to the Supreme Court. What does she have to gain? What on earth does this professor have to gain?

She has lost already her ability to stay in her house. She gains no money. She gains no prestige. What, is she going to -- you're going to -- people think she wants to be David the lion killer -- I mean, the giant killer? No, that is not what she wanted.

CUOMO: Well, we're going to...

BLOW: What does she have -- what is her motivation?

CUOMO: We're going to know, because before Friday, they're going to have to make a decision whether or not the deadline is in their interest and it's in her interest, and when it does, let's get back together and figure out what happens.

HAYWORTH: And there are two lives at stake.

CUOMO: A hundred -- well...

HAYWORTH: Two lives at stake.

CUOMO: And a lot more than that, because the Supreme Court means a lot to this society. Thank you very much. David Gergen...

GERGEN: Thank you. Good to see you.

CUOMO: ... Nan, Charles, thank you. Appreciate it very much.

Republicans are sweating it out in at least three key Senate races. And by the way, Kavanaugh's stuff plays into that, as well. Chris Cillizza has got a great set of tips for what to watch for, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Not one, not two, but three key red states are shaping up to be absolutely pivotal if Democrats want to take control of the Senate. And that's a big if. Three states went for Trump, all three seats currently held by Republicans, and yet Democrats are running neck-and- neck-ish in all three.

Let's break it down with Chris Cillizza. I give it to you. What do you got?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Sir, thank you, my second favorite C.C. in the world.

OK, let's jump right into it, because we've got a lot going on. Let's go to Tennessee, first one, OK. This is a state that Donald Trump won by 26 points. The only reason Democrats are competitive, Phil Bredesen over there, former governor, very moderate, ran talking about his gun -- his support for gun rights. Gun rights in the state. Let's go to a poll we did recently, next slide, 50-45. This is worrisome if you're a Republican. Donald Trump won this state by 26 points.

OK, let's keep going. I want to go to the next state, Arizona. OK, Kyrsten Sinema against Martha McSally. These are both members of Congress, Chris. One Democrat, one Republican. Now, Sinema is a moderate now, but let's go to the next slide, because she wasn't always. She was a very, very prominent anti-war activist. This is one of the pamphlets that our folks at the KFile, Andrew Kaczynski and his folks, unearthed that she was handing out in the early 2000s. She's much more moderate now. Her campaign points out that she has relatives who have served, et cetera, et cetera.

But still -- let's go to the next slide. Let's go to Texas. I wanted to spend more time on this than the other one because it's bigger. Everything is bigger in Texas. Beto O'Rourke, if you don't know who Beto O'Rourke is, you don't know anything about politics. You haven't been paying attention. He is the new hot thing for Democrats.

Ted Cruz, runner up to Donald Trump. OK, you think, well, it's Texas. I mean, what could -- it's not even close. All right, let's go to the next slide and we'll show you how nervous Ted Cruz is. Here's Ted Cruz. PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, protested our town hall yesterday handing out barbecue tofu. We were glad to welcome them, but it illustrates the stakes. If Beto wins, barbecue will be illegal.

OK, he's joking, but only sort of. This is a cultural war that Ted Cruz is engaged in. He's talking about Beto O'Rourke being in a rock band, Beto O'Rourke wearing a dress. He was both of those things in a rock band. I was in a rock band in college. Texas Senate race, OK, this one makes a little sense. This is Quinnipiac, in my home state of Connecticut, 54 Cruz, 45 O'Rourke. But wait, let's go to one more, 47 O'Rourke, 45 Cruz, this one came out today, Reuters IPSOS, UVA Center for Politics.

Texas, Tennessee, Chris, Arizona, I'll throw in Nevada. That's the only state where there's a Republican senator up in a state Hillary Clinton won, Dean Heller. He's in trouble. That's four states. Remember, they need two.

Back to you.

CUOMO: Strong analysis. Thank you very much, C.C. But, remember, close ain't close enough. They got to win.

CILLIZZA: True.

CUOMO: All right, so thanks for watching. Let's get after it again tomorrow night at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN. Have a great night.